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Despite the apparent increase in jobs and applications in the UK last month, the same cannot be said for graduate jobs market, as the number of vacancies drops by nearly 8% year-on-year.

After four consecutive years of significant growth, the amount of graduate jobs on offer has shrunk to 19, 732 positions this year, compared to 21,427 in 2015.

The construction, retail and engineering sectors have decreased the most, according to the annual survey by the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR).

At the beginning of the year, AGR predicted that the number of graduate vacancies would grow by 2%, suggesting that the UK’s vote to leave the European Union has had a significant impact.

The Apprenticeship Levy is also having effect, said the AGR, as more than ten employers said they were turning some graduate roles as higher apprenticeships due to the Levy, which will require employers with an annual bill of over £3 million to pay a 0.5% payroll tax from April 2017.

The overall combined number of vacancies for graduate jobs and apprenticeships has decreased 3% compared to last year.

Earlier this month, research by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (Hefce) revealed that graduates who were white, male and from an advantaged background were much more likely to secure a professional job after graduating then those from minority ethnicities.

Professional employment rates for black, Bangladeshi and Pakistani graduates were 9% less than those for white graduates, according to the research.

Female graduates were also less likely to land a professional job compared to males, as 79% of men are in professional occupations or study, compared with 74% of women.

Stephen Isherwood, AGR’s chief executive, said: “The labour market for young people is shrinking for the first time since the financial crisis, but the composition of the market is also changing as employers invest more in school-leaver programmes and apprenticeships.

“The uncertainty of Brexit is the single biggest challenge facing recruiters in the year ahead. Competition for skills and the looming apprenticeship levy are also significant concerns.”